In honour of the 150th anniversary of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, four up-and-coming artists have made new versions of the compositions Edvard Grieg once wrote for the play.
Øyunn is the artist name of drummer, singer and composer Siv Øyunn Kjenstad. With clear melodies and hip drum grooves she makes melodic, catchy, and honest music. On the song she made for The Peer Gynt Project, “For A Moment”, she sings and plays all the instruments herself. In a live setting, Øyunn performs solo or with various musicians. She is one of Norway’s most aspiring drummers recognised by many for her characteristic, steady groove and the ability to listen and play with her co-musicians in an expressive, dynamic, and organic way.
“My impression of Peer Gynt is that the minute something gets uncomfortable, he just escapes.”
The Oslo-based drummer has toured the world with Bugge Wesseltoft’s band, in addition to collaborating with numerous of other acclaimed musicians in the pop and jazz scene. In the different musical expressions she adds her personal sound and spontaneous approach.
This year Øyunn is doing a commission work for Oslo World. In 2015 her band Øyunn was voted “Band of the year” by the Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen.
What did you think when you were asked to participate in this project?
“I thought ‘what an incredibly cool opportunity’. It has been an exciting challenge musically, and I enjoyed working with film.”
Why did you choose to interpret Anitra’s dance?
“Because it spoke to me the most. It’s catchy, and at the same time it hasn’t been overused. The project made me more interested in Peer Gynt as a character. I see him as a kind of caricature on how we sometimes escape from reality when things get uncomfortable. This is the starting point for the text in the song ‘For A Moment’.”
What is your relation to “Peer Gynt”?
“I knew that the opening line in the play is ‘Peer, you’re lying!’ and I had a general idea of the plot. But I only saw the play for the first time this summer, and it was a really cool experience. Peer Gynt is such an interesting character. I think he just wants to be happy, but he might have made some other choices in different circumstances. Although Ibsen wrote the play 150 years ago, it is still very relevant.”
What was your relation to Edvard Grieg’s music before this project?
“I have listened to his music in different contexts my whole life. It is very visual and timeless in many ways. I also find it catchy, and it has its own musical language. It is easy to recognize the music of Edvard Grieg.”
If you had visitors from abroad, which three cultural events would you recommend?
“Just three? There are lots of great cultural events in Oslo. From dance and theatre to clubs that organize all kinds of concerts – from the biggest venues like Oslo Spektrum and Sentrum Scene/Rockefeller to Nasjonal Jazzscene, Riksscenen, Cafeteatret, Blå, and many small clubs. I would also take them to a good festival, perhaps Vossajazz during Easter. This festival has a good program, and you can go snowboarding and enjoy a concert in the mountains during the day.”
Blå is an independent club for live, contemporary jazz, hip-hop, r&b and related sounds.More
Where in Norway do you get inspired?
“I love living in Oslo, but I get inspired everywhere in Norway. For example, on the Bergensbanen railway and in Northern Norway. Tromsø is a cool city – it’s urban, has a great cultural scene and you can feel the smell of fresh sea air everywhere. I also have a special bond to and get inspired by places like Inderøya in Trøndelag, Trondheim, Voss, Bergen, and Oppdal.”
What is it like to be an artist in Norway in 2017?
“I’m really happy to be a musician and drummer here. Norway is a country that appreciates the value of culture. Working as a musician takes dedication and a willingness to develop by challenging your own comfort zone. For me, it’s been necessary to find good tools to help my body and head function optimally. I meditate and practise Timani (muscle coordination for musicians).”
Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt was released in 1867, but was first seen on stage nine years later, at Christiania Theater. Since then, there has been many different versions of the play, in all major parts of the world. Peer Gynt is still one of the most famous plays in the world.
A well-known version of Peer Gynt is the annual outdoor production at Gålåvatnet in Gudbrandsdalen.
At the Ibsen Museum in Oslo you can learn more about the playwright’s life and work.
The contrast between nature and modern life is an indispensable source of inspiration for Norwegian artists. Search for upcoming cultural events and add some extra meaning and content to your trip.